BESG was established in 1983 by senior staff of the then University of Natal Department of Architecture and Allied Disciplines, as a support group that defended communities against eviction from informal settlements in urban areas, largely as a result of inter-political party violence. In the early 1990’s, BESG became a key player in shaping planning and housing policies from local to national level. Since 1995, BESG has been a leader in enabling poor communities to access development and advocating pro-poor developmental policy through research, practice, and advocacy work.
BESG was registered as a Not-for-Profit Section 21 company in 1999. It is a registered Non-Profit and Public benefit Organisation. In 2009, it established a separate Section 21 company, BESG Development Services, to manage its trading (non-donor funded) activities.
BESG is managed by a Board of 9 members who volunteer their skills in development, human resources, adult education, and community development to provide strategic guidance and administrative and financial oversight to the staff. BESG currently has nine staff, with a similar range of skills.
BESG is based in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal. This makes it well positioned to serve the two main centres of Msunduzi and eThekwini, and the various smaller towns and rural areas in the KZN Midlands.